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This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 31 August – 4 September

This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 31 August – 4 September content piece image
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Circuit formation in the brain; a new type of prion protein; food cravings, and more.

Conscious Coupling: The early path to circuit formation in the neocortex

Catapulting human intelligence above all other creatures is the highly precise formation of neuronal circuits in the cerebral cortex. This is not an easy feat since an estimated 16 billion molecularly distinct neurons are packed within the cerebral cortex. The nature of the connections between these neurons is largely unknown. In fact, President Barack Obama launched the Human Connectome Project in 2009 to map the entire brain circuitry and shed light into the brain’s “impenetrable jungles”.

Psychotic patients distinguished from controls while watching movie Alice in Wonderland

Researchers using fMRI have found that even first-episode psychotic patients process information differently from a control group. To ensure both groups experienced the same brain stimuli, the measurements were taken while the subjects watched a movie, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The work is being presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Amsterdam.

Testosterone therapy changes brain structures in female-to-male transsexuals

Brain imaging shows that testosterone therapy given as part of sex reassignment changes the brain structures and the pathway associated with speech and verbal fluency. This result supports research that women in general may deal with speech and interaction differently than men.

New type of prion may cause, transmit neurodegeneration

Multiple system atrophy, a neurodegenerative disorder with similarities to Parkinson's disease, is caused by a newly discovered type of prion, akin to the misfolded proteins involved in incurable progressive brain diseases such Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, according to two new research papers led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco

Research indicates food craving is ‘hard-wired’ in the brain

An international group of researchers have found that food craving activates different brain networks between obese and normal weight patients. This indicates that the tendency to want food may be 'hard-wired' into the brain of overweight patients, becoming a functional brain biomarker. The work is being presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Amsterdam